CBC demands removal of Mac radio app made by Vancouver developer

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      A Vancouver developer is upset that a CBC copyright complaint means he will have to remove his software from the Mac App Store.

      Today (September 13), Cory Alder of Davander Mobile went public about his fight with Canada’s public broadcaster, detailing his side of the story on his blog.

      In August, Alder released his third-party CBC Radio Player in Apple’s desktop-app store. The $2.99 app allows users to easily listen to audio streams from CBC radio stations across Canada.

      Later that month, Apple notified Alder that the CBC had filed a copyright and trademark infringement complaint against his app. In response, Alder revised his app, renaming it as Canadian Radio Player and removing the CBC logo. According to Alder, Apple then let him know that CBC was still claiming infringement.

      On his blog, Alder has posted an email exchange, in which the developer threatens to publicize the dispute if CBC doesn’t withdraw its complaint. In a September 9 email to CBC legal counsel Dan Ciraco, Alder wrote:

      I don’t think “CBC lawyers bully small software developer” is the kind of message you want to be sending.

      In addition, providing the public with ways to access CBC content is a MAJOR part of your corporate mandate, and this complaint is a direct contradiction of that mandate.

      Three days later, Ciraco replied to Alder, noting that copyright infringement can lead to “costly consequences”, such as damages, fines, and even imprisonment. The lawyer stated:

      To be clear, CBC objects to your use, repackaging, and sale of CBC’s marks and radio content without authority. Therefore, notwithstanding your threats to go to the public with the false and defamatory statements noted in your email below, CBC will not withdraw its complaint. CBC treats trademark and copyright infringement as a serious matter. As such, CBC makes every effort to ensure its intellectual property is protected and it pursues any possible cases of improper use.

      On his blog, Alder argues his app is being falsely characterized, as it is “essentially a radio receiver”. He wrote:

      My app does not contain, package, or distribute any CBC content. It downloads a list of radio stream URLs published on the CBC website, and then plays those streams at the users request. What part of that is infringing? The stream URLs can be accessed with any web browser, the streams can be played by any media player. If my app is infringing, so are iTunes, Windows Media Player, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. So is your car radio, for that matter.

      Technical concerns aside, CBC is in the business of making their radio content available to all Canadians. It’s in their mandate. These streams are currently easily available to anyone with Adobe Flash Player, an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Why should they stomp on an independent developer trying to expand the ways to listen, and who does that serve? It’s a lose-lose-lose proposition for the CBC, listeners, and developers.

      Alder says he will soon be forced to withdraw his product from the app store. But he’s hoping that the publicity his case receives will result in the CBC reconsidering its Internet-streaming policies and allowing “listeners decide how they want to listen”.

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      Sep 13, 2011 at 2:45pm

      Guess the CBC is emphasizing the "Corporation" in their name more these days.

      Bryce P

      Sep 13, 2011 at 4:23pm

      CBC does state pretty clearly their stance on re-broadcast, etc. It might not be popular, but them's the breaks.

      IP law is pretty straight-forward in cases like this, and Alder should've known better.

      Andrew Filer

      Sep 13, 2011 at 4:48pm

      I can't figure out what would possibly be "copyright infringement" here, and the CBC stream URLs aren't even big secrets, though they certainly push listeners to their web-based player. (Streams are listed at http://www.cbc.ca/listen/streams.html -- some links are broken, but you can copy and paste the link text, and stream URLs can also be grabbed from the web player by using a web inspector like Firebug).

      That said, calling it "CBC Radio Player" seems like a bad idea and most likely trademark infringement. Making money off of something that's probably trademark-infringing seems like an even worse idea. I can understand how someone would have been confused into thinking that it was official CBC app before the name was changed.

      But why is the CBC still claiming copyright infringement? My guess is that claiming that is the easiest way to get something removed from the Mac App Store.


      Sep 13, 2011 at 5:41pm

      can I also point out that I gave up on trying to listen to CBC online because their proprietary player completely sucks on Firefox for Ubuntu? Guy fixes a problem they created (their player has the suck), making it easier for more people to listen to their shows, and instead of saying "Right on, dude, nice work!" they threaten him with legal action. Fail.


      Sep 13, 2011 at 7:08pm

      CBC is part of the government.
      The government is allegedly "of the people"
      The developer is a Canadian.
      So, technically, the developer is suing himself without his own consent?


      Sep 13, 2011 at 7:26pm

      Just what I would expect from a corporation that uses $1.1 billion of our taxpayers dollars to provide generally subpar programing and unfair competition. Even with that, the CBC's ratings are far below the other networks and their programming. Especially news. LOL


      Sep 13, 2011 at 9:10pm

      Why pay $2.99 to listen to stream the CBC when you can do it for free on the CBC site? Or download the free CBC app and listen to it on your iOS device? Or copy the feed into an internet radio player like iTunes, WinAmp, etc.

      Eddy M

      Sep 13, 2011 at 9:15pm

      But hey, this dude is making $ out of a product that is provided for free by the CBC on its website.


      Sep 13, 2011 at 11:43pm

      @Eddy M: Not quite. He is essentially selling a single-purpose streaming radio player. The software itself is likely no different than any other streaming radio player, with the obvious exception that it only plays predefined streams. While I personally wouldn't pay money for an application like this, I don't see why the cost is a concern. The money is being charged for the software, not the content. The software is his own creation, and enables users to consume content that is made freely available. The means by which a user consumes legally-available content should not affect the legality of said consumption.


      Sep 14, 2011 at 7:57pm

      Eddy M is right: the ability to play CBC content is the only thing that makes his product viable. He is, for all intents and purposes, profiting from their property. Furthermore, copyright law pretty much demands that the CBC defend its claim or risk losing the ability to do so in future. Allowing one company to use CBC's copyrighted material without permission would open the Corp. up to a claim of discrimination in the event that other companies attempted to do so in future. The developer hasn't got a leg to stand on.